Paralegal hopes to be first solicitor admitted through ‘equivalent means’ route

Print This Post

20 March 2015

Shaun Lawler

Lawler: “money is an issue” for would-be solicitors

Paralegal Shaun Lawler has said he hopes to be the first solicitor admitted to the profession through the ‘equivalent means’ route rather a traditional training contract.

Mr Lawler, based at Malletts Solicitors in central London, said he hoped to be admitted in June after passing his LPC exams in May.

“I’m hoping for a distinction, but I’m confident I will get a pass,” he said.

Mr Lawler said the experience he had gained a paralegal was “exactly the same” as you would get from being a trainee solicitor.

Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 14)

Under the Training Regulations 2014, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) can recognise that an individual has “through other assessed learning and work-based learning” acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to become a solicitor – known as the ‘equivalent means’ route.

Mr Lawler said that, as far as he was aware from the SRA, he would be the first to be admitted to the profession in this way.

“The only difference is the signed piece of paper,” he said. “A lot of people are led along by their employers about the possibility of a training contract. I know people who’ve been paralegals for three to four years without getting one.”

Mr Lawler was a law student at Lincoln University before working for two years at a Leeds charity called the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, which offers free advice on debt and bankruptcy.

From there he obtained a paralegal job at a general practice in central London, where he worked for two years. Mr Lawler said that ‘equivalent means’ required a paralegal to work in three different departments, contentious and non-contentious.

“I’ve been lucky,” he said. “I’ve got friends employed in only one department, and that is all the work they can do as a paralegal.”

Mr Lawler said the start of the new route to qualification was good for the SRA and the profession, because “nothing had changed in terms of standards in any shape or form”.

He went on: “A training contract is just a form signed by a supervisor in a law firm and the SRA does not check that experience. This isn’t a shortcut – it’s really hard.

“Money is an issue. I can’t think of any other profession where there is so much outlay of money, separate from the risk involved.

“Friends of mine have done the LPC without getting a training contract, and they’ve left the law for banking or to set up their own businesses.”

A spokesman for the SRA said the regulator had received 29 applications for recognition through equivalent means.

“Four people have satisfied the training requirements under the equivalent means provision and so are eligible to seek admission. Five applications have been withdrawn and 20 are pending.

“We carry out an initial check on applications to see if we can provide guidance on overall quality and whether they might need additional detail or evidence. The applicant can make further representations on the detailed assessment of their application before we make a final decision.”

Tags: , ,

One Response to “Paralegal hopes to be first solicitor admitted through ‘equivalent means’ route”

  1. Congratulations to the (hopefully successful) applicants.

    It shouldn’t however be forgotten that the “equivalent means” provisions extend beyond an equivalent to the training contract nor that more than 40 LPC graduates have already qualified through the SRA’s work-based learning pilot – the precursor to the equivalent means provisions for the training contract – and on the basis of essentially the same criteria.

  2. Jane Ching on March 24th, 2015 at 11:33 am

Leave a comment

* Denotes required field

All comments will be moderated before posting. Please see our Terms and Conditions

Legal Futures Blog

The LSB’s proposals for legislative reform: let’s be clear

Caroline Wallace LSB

The publication of the Legal Services Board’s vision for legislative reform of legal services regulation on 12 September has generated a healthy level of interest and debate. This can, on the surface, seem a somewhat dry subject. However, it has an impact not just on existing regulated practitioners, but also on providers of legal services more generally, as well as everyone who uses or benefits from an effective legal sector. And, let’s face it, that’s all of us.

October 25th, 2016